Romance was a lot different during the 1800s. Courtship and marriage rituals evolved throughout the century and remain a subject of much fascination, even 200 years later. Even the most romantic literature of the day seems quaint today, yet we enjoy the thought of a ‘simpler time’ (which they were not) when social status and ritual governed how men and women interacted especially where romance was concerned.
We’re going explore some of these authors and the romantic quotes associated with them. This is part one of the series.
Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775. She wrote six novels filled with wit and satire, comedy, and romance. Her novels include Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), and Emma (1814). Her influence on romantic literature is unquestioned.
“My heart is, and always will be, yours.” – Sense and Sensibility
If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more” – Emma
“You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever.” – Pride & Prejudice
Elizabeth Barrett was born on March 6, 1806. She self-published at the age of 14. Despite frail health, she enjoyed an active social life filled with the writers of the day. She met and fell in love with the poet Robert Browning. They married secretly and moved to Italy where they lived until her death in 1861. Today, she is best known for her Sonnets from the Portuguese (1850), a collection of love poems to her husband, which gives us this unforgettable passage.
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! —and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.”
Do you have a favorite romantic quote from one of these authors? Is there an author from 1800s romantic literature you want to suggest for this series? Email your quotes and suggestions and we’ll take them into consideration!
Feel like you’ve just stepped out of a Victorian romance with us.